With the 2017 NFL season slowly coming to a close, it’s time to start thinking about what comes next—Mainly, the 2018 NFL Draft, otherwise known as the next big chance for the Cleveland Browns to build a winning roster.
The Browns currently have 12 picks in the upcoming draft, including two in the first round and five in the first two rounds. And everyone has an opinion about what they should do with those picks, including ESPN’s Mel Kiper and Todd McShay who, on Tuesday, answered 25 questions as part of their 2018 draft primer. And one in particular should be of note for Browns fans.
The Browns are currently projected by ESPN to have the first-overall as well as the eighth-overall picks in this year’s draft. And No. 1.01 is what concerns the ESPN gurus. When asked what the Browns should do with that selection, Kiper didn’t mince words: “It has to be a quarterback.” Kiper continued:
“That is Cleveland's biggest need. Stop trading down and get a guy who can be the face of your franchise for 10 to 15 years. Rookie second-round pick DeShone Kizer has been a turnover nightmare, so let him compete with the top 2018 pick. This team has won one game in two seasons under coach Hue Jackson, so I wouldn't be surprised if there also were a new coach and front office next year.”
Who that quarterback may be, however, remains a mystery (as does whether or not the Browns actually do want to address the position in the first round next year). McShay believes that four passers will be selected in the top 10 in April—Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, USC’s Sam Darnold, Wyoming’s Josh Allen and UCLA’s Josh Rosen, with Kiper believing Rosen is “the most ready to start right away.”
Though the two believe that Darnold remains in the No. 1-overall discussion, McShay added that “this is the least confident I've been since the start of the season,” that Darnold will ultimately be the first player off the board next year. Mayfield, meanwhile, “is on the fringe” of the first round, while Louisville’s Lamar Jackson does not project to be a first-round pick by either expert.
Clearly, the Browns will have myriad options come the 2018 draft, particularly in the first round. One is certainly quarterback, of which they could have their pick of the litter should they remain hold of the No. 1 overall pick and do not opt to trade out. As of now, Kiper’s and McShay’s needle leans toward Rosen. Whether that’s the case for the Browns’ decision-makers remains a mystery